In the late 1920’s, Antonio Sofo made the journey from Italy to New York City aboard the Dante Alighieri. At just 14 years old, he worked as a furnace attendant shoveling coal for the E.W. Bliss Company, a machine manufacturer based in Brooklyn, New York. Eventually work was contracted out across the country and Antonio was moved to Toledo, Ohio.
In the 1940’s, Antonio began to follow his passion for authentic Italian foods. It started out as the occasional weekend trip to Detroit for imported goods such as cheeses, salami, prosciutto, and olive oils. Soon family, friends and locals began making requests and placing orders, and it wasn’t long until people were lining up at his truck to get a taste of the Old Country.
When Antonio’s son, Joe, returned from the front lines of Korea, they opened Antonio Sofo & Son’s on the 2300 block of Monroe St., near Auburn, in downtown Toledo. Now fully invested in the food service industry, their reputation for quality Italian products and great service soon has the business thriving.
The 50’s and 60’s ushered in the pizza boom across America. Pizzerias and Italian restaurants were opening up overnight, and the Sofo Foods Wholesale Distribution Company was born. Antonio managed the Italian Market, while Joe grew the distribution arm of the company.
As the demand for authentic Italian food soared, so did Antonio Sofo & Son’s business. Even with the passing of our patriarch and his beloved Carmela, another move became necessary and the market relocated to 3253 Monroe St., near Swayne Field. With a much larger store and better location, the business continues to grow. Soon the semi trailer parked out back for cold storage wasn’t enough to keep up with demand and the family purchased their first warehouse on Cardinal Road in Toledo.
In the late 70’s and early 80’s the third generation of Sofo’s, Mike, Tony and Joe, began to take on responsibilities’ with the company. Now with the distribution business serving Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, Joe Sr. began to dream of a new storefront and in 1985, opened up a new Sofo’s Italian Market at 5400 Monroe street Sylvania, Ohio.
Today, that little retail store forged by Antonio and Joe Sr. has blossomed into the finest Italian Market in the greater Toledo area and the largest ethnic food distributor in the Midwest. Four generations of leadership are committed and continue to offer quality Italian products and service for generations upon generations to enjoy...may it continue for years to come.
“Mangiare Bene.” — Eat Well.